Subversive Historian – 11/07/08

The Death of Elijah Parish Lovejoy

One-hundred and seventy-one years ago on this day in people’s history, Elijah Parish Lovejoy was murdered by a pro-slavery mob. On November 7th, 1837 the abolitionist martyr met his fate defending his printing press and the right it enabled him to express his anti-slavery views. Lovejoy, a white Presbyterian minister, had moved to Alton, Illinois where he established the Alton Observer. Even within a supposed ‘free state,’ the minister’s words angered many and on numerous occasions his printing presses were destroyed. The last altercation came as the Ohio Anti-Slavery Society gave Lovejoy a new printing press under the guard of secrecy. The murderous mob ultimately found out and laid siege to the warehouse where he and others sought not to surrender the right to free expression.

In the ensuing violence, Lovejoy was killed after being shot five times and the mob destroyed his final printing press throwing its scattered pieces into the Mississippi River.


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